Thought for the Day: Focused on Learning

Twenty five years ago when we were “Riddle Rats”, a lot of people talked about composites. Everyone spoke about how complex it all was, how much there was to learn, and how the engineering was super hard, and how complicated it all was. Scared most people off.

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A certain type of person, that included Arnold and myself and others who didn’t shy from a challenge or were specifically attracted by the fact that others found composites intimidating, decided that composites were being done by people who looked like regular mortals, and therefore we could probably do it also. This opened the door to many of the things each of us has accomplished in the last 25 years.

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This is the core mind set that being a homebuilder and an aviator is supposed to give you. This is the real valuable thing you can get out of all the hours in the shop, the one thing that you will not loose even if a tornado wrecks your plane or it burns to the ground. Homebuilding is about how it changes your mindset.

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Film critic Gene Shalit said “A street car named desire wasn’t a move about public transportation.” Homebuilding isn’t about having a different form of transportation or owning a different toy.  It is about developing and exploring your own skills, attitudes, capabilities and philosophy. In the best of all out comes, the plane is just a visible and useful byproduct of the change in how you view the world and your place in it. -ww.

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Read more about Arnold’s perspective on Homebuilding at this link:

Guest Editorial, Arnold Holmes On Affordable Aircraft…

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In a 2006 photo, Arnold Holmes and I stand behind the engine installation on a V-8 powered Lancair IV-P. This is an EngineAir package that I helped develop from 1993 to ’98. It’s 450hp, geared, injected, intercooled and turboed, and featured air conditioning and pressurization. Yes, I have had short hair many times in my life.

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Above, 2012 Arnold Holmes, (in blue) Host of Corvair Colleges #17  #25, and #29 and I enjoy the prop blast of a running Curtiss OX-5 engine.  This V-8 engine is Eighty-Five years older than the one in the top photo. 

Engine build mistakes: people who don’t like help.

Builders,

I was cleaning up the shop today and came across an junk orange oil cooler. It reminded me of a few photos of an engine that came through the shop a while back.

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The engine’s second owner brought it by to see if I could ‘update’ it. He had bought it from the original builder, along with a Flybaby airframe. The original builder was an older gentleman who had bought a hub from us many years earlier. Although he had a manual from us, when the original builder found out that the guy who wrote the manual had long hair and didn’t project the right appearance, he decided that he had nothing to learn from my work.

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He went on and finished the engine but never ran it. He explained to the second owner that it was a perfect overhaul, ready to be flown. I took the whole engine apart, it was essentially junk and bad ideas.

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Disliking my appearance is not a valid reason to discard what I know about Corvairs. The Pilot in Command of a plane has an ethical obligation to his passengers to utilize all available information, not just the stuff from ‘pleasant’ sources. If the ghost of Chairman Mao knew something that would measurably reduce risk to a passenger in my plane, I would not hesitate to use it. Being too proud to accept help is not an asset in the Arena of flight.

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Above: Note the valve cover clamps are on upside down; the heads are from a 140, with the second flange welded shut, but the stock seats in the heads ready to fall out. No washers under the head nuts, no lube on the threads. Heads torqued over 35 pounds. The cylinders were standard with a thick ridge. Cast Pistons were in the bores.

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Above, pushrods painted orange not white. Spray paint down in the lifter bores and all inside the case. Note the cut out in the stock oil pan for mounting. This is a leak. Bernard Pietenpol made something that looked like this, but his plans showed a reinforcement welded back in place. No safety on oil pan bolts.

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Above: Never paint an oil cooler, it prevents it from cooling the oil. There is no sheet metal baffle behind the cylinders. Heat from the head will directly radiate on the cooler, baking it.

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Above, a record: four different plugs in the same motor. Note “Jack and the Beanstalk” dipstick tube.